For a first-year Bobcat, there’s no better place to start your sports career than Alumni Gym. For Bates’ first-year volleyball players, that was Tuesday evening vs. the University of Southern Maine in the college’s first home contest of the year.

“Alumni is such a magical place for us,” says head coach Melissa DeRan.

“It’s always nice to be at home on our own court and in our own locker room, especially for our first-years. It’s special when you get to put on your collegiate jersey in front of your peers for the first time.”

Bates made a comeback after losing the first set, winning 3-1.

“Being the first college home game, it was a different experience,” says Angel Echipue ’21 of Munich, Germany. “It was really fun, very exciting. Being in Alumni was a different playing environment — a lot more intensity.”

Echipue, who spent part of her high school career in the U.S., says sports here “are so much more celebrated than in Germany.” Moving from high school to Bates, she sees “a lot more commitment with a college team. That’s why I love it.”

Ruby Lightbourn ’21 of Los Angeles agrees. “I love playing in Alumni Gym. It has a good energy and more of an environment — and more people in the stands.”

“It was good to see us all come together in the last couple games and to get a win at home,” says Delaney Mayfield ’21 of Santa Barbara, Calif. “It felt really comfortable and like our home.”

Bates volleyball will look for another win on Friday at Tufts.